Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Rite Aid Closing, Cordova, TN

Today's post highlights Shelby County, TN, retail.
Last time I featured a Rite Aid post here on the blog, one store - out of ten locally - had closed. Since that time, the tables have greatly turned: now only one store - out of those same ten - is still open! This is a scenario playing out all across the country, no doubt... Walgreens's purchase of select Rite Aid stores has led to many of those Rite Aids closing up shop left and right. Here in the Mid-South, I believe the ultimate goal is for Rite Aid to exit the region entirely, although as I said, there's still one last store hanging on, for now.
With this anticipated market exit in mind, this year I made the rounds, documenting five of those ten stores for future coverage on the blog. (I've also set aside this page for collection of those posts, though of course, with those posts being added over time, that page is nowhere near complete yet.) Even though it would probably be more timely if I were to post all of my Rite Aid images at once, I don't want to inundate the blog with Rite Aid after Rite Aid after Rite Aid, so instead I'll be spreading those posts out over spans of several months. Today, we're kicking the series off with Rite Aid liquidation #1 - the store formerly located at 1780 N Germantown Parkway in Cordova. 

Here's a look at the store's exterior. Nice, stately all-brick design here! This Rite Aid was rather unique, in that it was not a freestanding location but rather was located at the corner of a shopping complex, known as The Market at Cordova. (Hence the fancy building materials: it matches the architecture of the rest of the center.) Unfortunately, I didn't think to get any pictures of the adjoining plaza on my visit here, but I'll still discuss it more a little later on in this post.

I thought this shot would be fun, framing both the Rite Aid logo on the building's façade and one of the store's shopping carts in the same image. Because this store was built as a part of a shopping center instead of as a freestanding location, it's not right on the street corner as you'd usually expect with a pharmacy/drugstore. Instead, it's set back quite a ways from the road, with an extensive parking lot in front of it. That said, it was still very visible from Germantown Parkway.

Despite being connected to a strip of fellow retail stores and using brick in lieu of their usual building materials of the period, this 1990s Rite Aid still managed to get its trademark diamond windows! My photo here isn't all that great, given that the sun was setting behind me (casting a bit of a weird light on these first few images), but you still ought to be able to clearly see what I'm talking about here. For some odd reason, that third diamond window (closest to the right side of the pic) looks like it may have been patched up at some point: usually when I see patched brickwork I think a car ran into the store, necessitating repairs, but that window seems a little too high up to have been a landing spot for a runaway car!

General knowledge of the fact that Walgreens would close hundreds of the Rite Aid stores they purchased, coupled with the fact that I had passed this Cordova store many times in the past on Germantown Parkway, thinking it was interesting and unique, is what drove me to visit here on March 3rd, 2018. As it happened, however, my visit couldn't have been more perfectly timed: as you can see here on the front window next to the store's entrance, this Rite Aid would be closing mere weeks later, on Tuesday, March 27th. Again, I came here with zero knowledge that this store was undergoing a liquidation sale at the time. But with that now in mind... my mission became all that much more important!

Let's head inside, shall we? Unfortunately this shot blurred on me, but I still decided to keep it in the post because it shows you one's first sight after stepping indoors: a small, round table front-and-center, housing brochures and information on the store's closure and where its prescriptions would be transferred to. Since this visit, I've seen that cardboard Walgreens podium in a few other Rite Aid stores, but I never did see it set out in a display like this again. Personally, I find this display quite helpful, especially for people who were regular customers of this location.

Spinning around, here's a look back at the entry doors we just stepped through moments ago. Above the doors is Rite Aid's "thank you for shopping" sign. No surprise here: yet another example of Rite Aid's 1990s pastel-colored décor package, just like we've seen before in both Horn Lake and Southaven. This décor package is also known as "RA1," and is very commonly seen inside these diamond-window stores; there is little doubt in my mind that this is the décor that this particular store opened with, back in the 90s. That said... there is something slightly different about this "thank you" sign, compared to the ones we saw in those two other aforementioned stores, south of the state line! In Horn Lake and Southaven, the slogan in-between the two "thanks" phrases is "It's not just a store. It's a solution." However, here in Cordova, the slogan instead reads, "For your life, Rite Aid's got it." We'll be seeing that slogan elsewhere in the store as our tour continues, too. Anyone know which slogan is older? The store numbers for these three locations are all I've got; I don't have any actual opening date information. (If the store numbers correspond with opening dates, then this Cordova store would be the oldest Rite Aid store in the Mid-South... but I'm not sure that I believe that's true.)

Here are a few shots of the "Beauty Shop" department, aka cosmetics, which is the first department as you enter the store. In the upper photo, you can see the RA1 department signage, and in the lower shot, you can see a close-up of some of the shelving units, bearing numerous "50% off" signs advertising the store's liquidation sale. Even though the décor (specifically the pastel colors) are painfully outdated now in 2018, you've got to admit, it's still really neat just how much detail Rite Aid put into this look! Note, for instance, how the light fixtures above the tall cosmetics shelves are done up in the same pink color as the department sign. (The mesh material, too, is duplicated elsewhere in the store.)

Across the aisle from cosmetics is the greeting cards department, which was looking very presentable on my visit! I like how the two shelving units curve inward, almost as if they're inviting you to browse the aisle. Like most everything else in the store, greeting cards were 50% off, but nothing much looked to be selling off quite yet. As I would later find out, this store likely was not in full-blown liquidation mode just yet, due to the fact that the pharmacy hadn't closed yet. Assuming the traditional pattern for Rite Aid closures was followed here in Cordova, the real sales didn't begin until after the pharmacy closed down, an event which (as we saw) was set for March 27th. At that point, the store would have remained open for two final weeks, with discounts raised to 70% off (and even as much as 90% off, in the final days). So in effect, the 50% off sale that was going on at the time of my visit was more like a "pre-sale" of sorts.

Panning to the right, here's a view of the store's selection of food, branded as "FoodMart." This department is straight ahead from the store's entrance, at the rear of the designated actionway. The blue mansard-looking roof above the refrigerated and frozen units is pretty unique, albeit nothing new to the blog, as it seems to have come standard in stores built with this décor package.

To the right of FoodMart lies the path to the pharmacy counter, which is located along the store's rear wall. Here, the actionway narrows slightly, only featuring a single line of alternating light- and dark-blue tiles, although it is still clearly defined by the border lines on either side, up against the aisles. The light blue tiles also continue throughout the salesfloor, but the dark blue tiles exist solely within the actionways.

Here's a look down a random aisle. This one looks to have been home to school supplies, judging by all those "50% off" signs on the endcap to the left. If only this sale was held just a few weeks ago rather than five months ago, I bet all that merchandise would have been snapped up in a heartbeat! Most Mid-South schoolchildren went back to class this past Monday.

I saw this generic Rite Aid sign on some sort of endcap display, and decided to take a picture of it. I'm not sure how old it is, but I do think it's newer than the rest of the décor in the store. I've always liked Rite Aid's logo, and as I said earlier I appreciate the attention to detail with this RA1 package; but besides that, I don't think very highly of them as a company, I'm sad to say. Never updating your 1990s pastel décor reflects poorly on you, in my opinion... it gives off the impression that you're stale, and not willing to invest in your stores. And based on a lot of the merchandise I found throughout my five Rite Aid visits this year... it was more than just the décor that was hopelessly outdated.

From FoodMart, here's a reverse view down the actionway that connects the grocery items to the store's front entrance. Check it out: there's more of those pink mesh light fixtures hanging above the greeting cards department! I also really liked that "The Rite Price" cube sitting atop the center of that quad fixture in the foreground. This was the only store I remember seeing that at, and I would have liked to have taken it with me! Alas, I never asked on any of my visits if any décor items were for sale, simply assuming that they were not. (Given that these liquidations appeared to have been run by Walgreens themselves rather than an outside, third-party liquidation company, I figured that selling such pieces was out of the question.)

Here's another view from within the FoodMart department, this time looking over towards the pharmacy counter once again. As you would expect, we'll explore that area of the store a little closer momentarily. In the meantime, in this shot, be sure to note how the aisle markers are placed in a semicircle pattern hanging from the ceiling. I thought that was pretty neat.

Unlike the rest of the store, beer was one of the few merchandise categories that was not marked at 50% off. It was on sale, however - just at a different, smaller, awfully (and oddly!) specific percentage :P  And naturally, I had to get a photograph of it, since it's the number that I somehow happen to encounter the most often in my retail adventures!

In the front corner of the store, left of both the entrance and the checkout counters, was the store's photo department. As we saw at the top of this post, the exterior of the store still advertised "one-hour photo" services, but I'm not quite sure that this counter was still operational. That said, it did still have that one (rather old-looking, but still) Fujifilm machine, so I guess that still counts...!

Here are a few aisle shots, as we return to the FoodMart department. The food selection gives way to paper goods at this point along the salesfloor, and by the looks of it, those paper goods themselves were rapidly giving way to empty shelves! I guess the 50% off price was just too good of a deal to pass up, in this department. In the upper photo, also be sure to note the presence of two Rite Aid house brands, Rite Aid Home and Big Win. Based on this webpage, I'm thinking Rite Aid Home isn't even around anymore, despite the fact that it was the most prevalent house brand in all of the Rite Aid stores that I visited. Yet more proof that these stores had plenty of old, outdated merchandise.

Here's the floorplan of this Cordova Rite Aid, as seen posted to one of the emergency exit doors. The date listed for this schematic is sometime in 2004, which really doesn't help me any in trying to determine a definitive opening date for this 1990s-era store :P  Also note how the layout erroneously shows that N Germantown Parkway runs on both the front and side walls of the building. (Rather, the road runs only parallel to the front wall, or the one right next to the compass.)


Next up, we finally approach the pharmacy! As promised, there's that slogan again: "For your life, Rite Aid's got it." The thing is, that slogan looks rather pointless next to that "Walgreens pharmacy" sign, haha! In case you weren't aware, in the Rite Aid stores that Walgreens has taken over, Walgreens has placed these "Walgreens pharmacy" signs in front of the existing Rite Aid pharmacy department décor. In those select affected Rite Aid stores that Walgreens actually chooses to keep open, I'm sure the old Rite Aid décor will be removed and replaced with Walgreens's own soon enough. But in all the Rite Aid stores that Walgreens is choosing to close instead, these temporary signs do just as well.

Here are a couple more aisle shots, with the upper image looking solely at Aisle 12 (of course!) with the diamond windows framed nicely behind it, and the lower image looking across the actionway at Aisles 6, 7, 8, and 9. These aisles are the ones closest to the pharmacy, and several of them look to have been emptying out, although it's more likely that whatever merchandise remained was simply being consolidated into other aisles throughout the salesfloor. As for the aisle markers themselves, you'll notice that they are done up in that same mesh material as we saw back at the top of the post, in the Beauty Shop department. The endcap toppers (visible in both pics here, but especially so in the Aisle 12 shot) are likewise made out of a similar mesh-like material. Kinda funky, but I like it :)

Speaking of the Beauty Shop area... why, here's a look back down towards it! Here we're standing parallel to the store's right-side wall; the parking lot adjacent to the side street (i.e. not Germantown Parkway, but its cross street) is beyond that wall to my left. Many of the promotional signs in this image are new (for example, "Check This Out," "Depend and Poise," "Eye and Ear Care Solutions"), but as we well know by now, the rest of the décor is not! Also worth mentioning is how, at the top left of the image, that blue mesh light fixture gives way to pink mesh ones. The color distinction appears to be Rite Aid's way of separating the cosmetics department from the rest of the store.

Here are two final looks back at the pharmacy. Since the pharmacy was still operational in this store, I tried to be stealthy with my photography, as pharmacists were still present and working behind the counter. In all of my other visits to closing Rite Aid stores, I stopped by during the two-week liquidation period after the pharmacies had closed, allowing me to explore and photograph the pharmacies in those stores a little easier. As for the images at hand, though... in the upper pic, be sure to notice the updated "Drop Off" and "Consultation" signs (same situation with "Pick Up" in the lower pic), as well as the blue-and-white tabletop standee in the window, telling customers where they can "Find your NEW pharmacy."

Our final aisle shots for this post both look down Aisle 13, just from different angles. The lower image looks from about eye-level down the aisle, while the upper image includes the Aisle 13 aisle sign, and also allows us to better see the FoodMart signage off in the distance. The aisles in this store were numbered in a clockwise fashion, originating from approximately the 9:00 position, with Aisles 1 and 2 being on opposite sides of the greeting cards department, Aisles 3 through 10 running from FoodMart over towards the pharmacy, and Aisles 11 through 14 running from the pharmacy back towards greeting cards. In other words, that's how Aisle 13 and 14 here came to be counting up in the opposite direction as Aisles 3, 4, and 5 across the way.

While we're over here... Aisle 14, as we previously specified, was home to school supplies - and this humorous "50% off" sign I saw placed on the rear endcap of said aisle seems to indicate that its author could use a little more schooling him/herself :P 

Jokes and misspellings aside, here's another view back into the Beauty Shop department. This one isn't all that awfully different from the one I featured six photos back, as it's looking the exact same direction from nearly the exact same vantage point... but it's different enough that I decided to keep it in the set anyway. At this point in the salesfloor, merchandise transitions back to products you'd typically find in the health and beauty department at larger stores (such as shampoo and hairspray), as well as cosmetics.

Out at the front of the cosmetics department, we find this cool-shaped display; it's got a bit of an "S"-curve going with it, if you can't quite tell from my photo here. In this view you can also see that display stand with the red tablecloth, featuring pamphlets on the store's pending closure and relocation, as well as a fairly good view of both the entry vestibule and the "Thanks for shopping with us." sign above it.

For our final interior view, here's a shot looking over towards the one-hour photo center, as viewed from the registers. I didn't get any pictures of the checkouts themselves for obvious reasons (!), but suffice to say that they were just as outdated as all the rest of the décor in the store: in fact, they were very similar to the gray and blue desk we saw in our closer-up shots of the photo center, with the pink tabletop. It is my understanding that Walgreens is actively trying to reassign all affected Rite Aid employees at the stores it is closing to stores of their own banner that are remaining open, so kudos to them for that. (It would really suck if Walgreens not only bought the stores just to close them, but also left all of those employees out of a job in the process!)

As we prepare to exit the store, here's one last pic from the vestibule, showing a closer view of that "Location Closing" poster we saw earlier in the set, on the exterior windows. Below the poster are a number of Walgreens-branded pamphlets, as well as a Rite Aid-branded circular (just a tiny sliver of which is visible at the bottom of the photo). Had I thought about it, I ought to have grabbed that circular as a keepsake, seeing as how Rite Aid is dangerously close to no longer existing here in the Mid-South...

Back outside once again, here's yet another look at those diamond windows. These three diamond windows were located along the front wall of the store, and are the only three such windows to be found on this side. Meanwhile, on the right side of the building - as we'll see momentarily, and as we've already seen from the interior of the store - there are seven of those windows, making for a total of ten altogether.

Seeing as how the sun was already setting when I first entered the store, it stands to reason that it was very, very low to the ground by the time I wrapped up my visit :P  That said, I still think this wide view of the store's exterior turned out rather nicely, very likely due precisely to that sunset as a matter of fact! Also be sure to check out that small "Rite Aid Pharmacy" sign hanging beneath the "Pharmacy" sign on the façade, above the sidewalk to the store: pretty neat! I neglected to get a better picture of that, unfortunately.

As we drive past the store in order to exit onto the side street, here's a trio of exterior shots showing the building's right-side wall. Of these three, I personally think the bottom image turned out the best, although the middle image is noteworthy in its own right in that it shows a handful of shopping center tenants next to the Rite Aid, including a donut shop, a Chinese restaurant, and a dry cleaners.

Finally, from out on Dexter Road, here's a view of the shared sign for the entire complex. (The Rite Aid building is just barely visible on the right side of my frame, past the Salvation Army Donation Center.) Note how the shopping center name, "The Market at Cordova," is nowhere to be found. That's because this is a pretty quiet plaza, that actually doesn't serve much of a purpose retail-wise. Instead, the center's main tenant is Life Church, which occupies the main 55,000 square feet big box space (a former grocery store of some sort, I believe), as well as an adjacent 6,000 square foot space between it and the (now-former) Rite Aid. The lease plans for this center indicate that the landlord(s) is/are willing to kick Life Church out if need be and if the demand ever comes, but in my opinion, you'd have to be a pretty heartless retailer to kick out a church in favor of opening a store in their spot...

With the store pictures now over, it's time for the auxiliary part of the post! In this portion, we'll be looking at all of the supplemental goodies I picked up while I was here. First up, here's a look at the backside of a ruler that I bought (from the "school supplys" department XD ). I primarily bought this because of the Rite Aid logos on it. I suppose it's a good thing I am indeed satisfied with the product, because otherwise I'd have to travel pretty darn far to find another Rite Aid at which to get my money back :P

Now for the good stuff... first up, here are both sides of a little flyer I picked up, notifying shoppers of the store's upcoming closure. These flyers are standard for all Walgreens-owned Rite Aid closures, it seems, simply with the dates and locations switched out. And, of course, the map on the back is different for every store as well.

Speaking of the map on the back of the flyer, here's a close-up of it. (This was initially all that my scanner would pick up from the flyer. I had to go to a lot of trouble to finally figure out how to get it to scan the whole darn thing!) At the top of the map is the current Rite Aid location, and at the bottom, the Walgreens store where customers' prescriptions will be transferred to, with the two pharmacies connected by a red line showing you how to travel between them. (With the Walgreens less than two miles away, I'm not really sure why such intricate directions are necessary, but I guess it's better to be safe than sorry, haha!) It's interesting to note how the Rite Aid icon is dark blue and the Walgreens one, light blue, very similar to the floor tile colors in Rite Aid's 1990s décor package... but that's just a funny coincidence, of course. Also fun to point out is how the Walgreens icon is just ever so slightly larger than the Rite Aid one, so that you will always be able to tell which chain came out on top :P

Next up, just for good measure, here's the receipt from my purchase (including the ruler that I showed you a moment ago). On the left is the receipt's front, which still displays Rite Aid's logo, slogan, and store number, but is sure to also include the line "Walgreen Co. DBA [that's "doing business as"] Rite Aid"... and on the right is the receipt's back, just in case any of you were interested in seeing Rite Aid receipt tape. (I won't judge!)

This other pamphlet I got includes an FAQ as to what will become of this Rite Aid store, now that Walgreens has purchased it... but, hmm, it curiously seems to leave out the part about the store closing down for good! Annoying that honesty is excluded, but not very surprising, by the same token. And for what it's worth, it's likely that these pamphlets were placed inside all of the affected Rite Aid stores as soon as Walgreens had completed the purchase, so it's possible (giving the benefit of the doubt here) that Walgreens simply hadn't identified which stores they would be closing when the pamphlets were first printed.

My final piece of "memorabilia" (if you can call it that) from the Cordova Rite Aid is this small pink slip of paper, which was also sitting on that front desk alongside the rest of the papers as I entered the store, welcoming customers to their "CLEARANCE EVENT!" and listing the affected departments and markdowns. Kind of unnecessary, since it looks to include nearly all of the departments and all at 50% off, but a nice gesture nonetheless :P

Last but not least, here's a(n attempted) view of the Walgreens that this Rite Aid is effectively relocating to, at 8046 Macon Road in Cordova. By this time, nighttime had almost completely set in, so my picture didn't turn out all that great (and it doesn't help that we were driving past as I was trying to take the photo, either). But as I recall, the neon lights on this Walgreens came on just seconds before I took this shot, which I thought was neat :)

That'll do it for the first of several upcoming Rite Aid liquidation posts! Once again, all of those Rite Aid posts will be spread out rather than uploading all at once, but do keep an eye out for them regardless. And speaking of posting schedules, with summer break now wrapping up and things returning to their usual chaos (!), the number of blog posts will lighten up through the remainder of the year, with only one post each anticipated for September, November, and December (and zero for October, but of course all of that is always subject to change as necessary). Until next time, then... have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell